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The green warrior

Margao-based Zuleika Juliet Antao won the title of ‘Sustainability Pioneer’- Female category at the YONO SBI 20 Under Twenty’ awards ceremony held in Bengaluru recently. NT KURIOCITY gets more details about the young achiever and her work

RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT KURIOCITY

Nineteen-year-old Zuleika Juliet Antao is completely ecstatic on winning the title of ‘Sustainability Pioneer’- Female category at the YONO SBI 20 Under Twenty’ but, being selected itself, and to be thought of as being on par with the other nominees is a bigger deal for her. “I didn’t expect to win, but after all the hardwork my family and friends put in to get me more votes, I would have been a bit disappointed if I hadn’t won,” she however relents.

She was conferred with the award for the same at a ceremony held recently in Bengaluru in the presence of chairman, SBI Rajnish Kumar and Bollywood actor Arjun Kapoor.

Zuleika was selected in the category of Female Sustainability Pioneer for her work with the ‘Hermetia sanitising bioconverter’. Giving more details about the bioconverter, she explains that it is a composting unit that helps to compost everyday biodegradable waste in minimal amount of time and with minimal smell, by using the larvae of the black soldier fly. “It is much more efficient and easy to use as compared to normal composting methods such as vermicomposting using earthworms. It can also be used in an integrated farming system, at flower, fish and meat markets and at hotels aside from home use,” she adds.

The composting unit in fact was first created for the Inspire National Level Science Exhibition competition that was organised by the NCERT when she was in class 9. “After a lot of brainstorming, we came up with this idea, because it matched both, my interests and the need of hour.  At the time the research mostly consisted of us reading up and getting to know the habits and life cycle of the larvae and what would be the best way to get the most out of it. We also made a number of varying units before finally settled on our winning model,” she says. It was created with help from her mother, Suvarna Fonseca e Antao (MSc, MPhil, DHE, and BHMS) who is currently a biology lecturer at Carmel HSS Nuvem, and Peter Fernandes who is into organic farming, permaculture, landscaping and is associated with Botanical Society of Goa. The composting unit is currently in the process of being patented.

Currently pursuing her first year Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences at SDM College of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences, Zuleika’s initial interests were related to botany and agriculture, naturopathy being the last choice on the list. After seeing the coursework however, and due to the fact that she works better with people than in a lab, she felt that naturopathy was the better option. “By doing this it gives me an opportunity to pursue my love for plants and the environment alongside my career. This wouldn’t have been possible the other way around,” says Zuleika.

The recent award that she received is given to those who are transforming society with their skills and expertise and Zuleika wishes to do so in whatever small way she can. She says: “Almost every big company has started small right? Educating more people about the need to segregate and compost waste would be the starting point. Relating to my course again would be educating people that prevention is better than cure, that a few changes in our diet and lifestyle will help us live not just longer but healthier lives.”

Her ultimate goal upon completion of her studies is to someday work for the WHO. Also, she says that it would be amazing if we could get together with a big company and put HERMICOMPOSTING® on the map and have it on a large scale. “There are many other things I wish to achieve in the future, and I hope that with the grace of God, hardwork, and also support from family and friends, I will get there,” she concludes.

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